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Fight to flight: North Whitehall kitten rescue takes to the road

Foxy's Cradle
One of many mother cats and kittens rescued by Foxy's Cradle, a neonatal kitten rescue based in North Whitehall. Recently, the group decided to avoid further legal battles with the local zoning hearing board, opting to spread out their patients and purchase an RV as a home base.

NORTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — After a battle against township zoning officials, a North Whitehall kitten rescue has taken to the road.

But don’t worry. It says it will be able to accommodate more furry friends than ever.

Embattled neonatal kitten rescue Foxy’s Cradle has for months fought to service felines in need for months, but on Monday, owner Kandice Reinert announced via social media it had found a novel method to placate the township’s zoning rules: taking to the road.

According to a Facebook post, the rescue’s board of directors have been engaged in fundraising for an appeal to Lehigh County Court after they were told the operation was not permitted under zoning regulation.

But now, instead of paying thousands toward legal fees, it stated it would continue its efforts “in a way the township cannot prohibit.”

“The township officials can try to stop my rescue efforts, but when you combine family and community support, love of rescue, compassion for the little ones too often overlooked and the sheer grit of a born and raised PA Dutch girl... nobody will ever succeed in holding my 'little' NICU back."
Foxy's Cradle owner Kandice Reinert

The operation said it has completely reorganized, with rescues and equipment being dispersed to a network of volunteers and fosters throughout its intake coverage area.

The only holdup in the change was establishing a home base of operations, but thanks to contributions from kitten lovers, it looks like a solution has been found.

“With the help of Optimum RV and 'Tattoo' Rob Stewart (he follows the page so please give him a HUGE thank you!!!!), we were able to purchase an RV which is about to be completely renovated into our "on the go!" mobile kitten unit,” Reinert stated in the Facebook post.

“The possibilities are endless! It's climate controlled so we can travel with our little ones anywhere! ALL neighboring townships have been wonderful and are welcoming us into their townships with open arms! We look forward to working with many local small businesses to help bring exposure to our rescue mission as well as support local small business to the best of our ability.”

Reinert did note the rescue is still in talks with the township regarding some details of their operation, including the use of the RV.

Kendra L. Eden of Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba informed Reinert that a settlement agreement is in the works, and could be finalized within the next few days.

Reinert said she has seen support from several neighboring townships and boroughs offering spaces and facilities to host meet-and-greets, fundraisers, and other events. After announcing the acquisition of the trailer, several of those supporters have suggested the mobile Foxy’s Cradle could set up shop in their parking lots.

And that support is what keeps Reinert and the Foxy's team going.

"I am so incredibly grateful for their support from day one. Nobody, nobody hesitated at all. Anytime we put a plea out for help or for support or to rally behind us or support our volunteers and our efforts in any way, not a single person hesitated, from mom and pop shops to the neighbors up the road to townships near and far " Reinert said.

"We're getting help sent to us from zoos from New York state that send money down toward the RV. Like just so much help has come from all over and that's what's fueling the fight for us to keep going."

'Kittens love to party ... anywhere!'

According to Reinert’s post, this could lead to Foxy’s Cradle holding mobile cat café operations, adoption and education events; responding to rescue partner requests; holding its Day For Max event, which advocates for teaching youth about kindness toward animals; and even partaking in kitten-based birthday party events.

After all, “kittens love to party… anywhere!” the post says.

“The township wants us to not do anything at our existing home, and we won’t," the posting says. "We will instead use their oppression as motivation to help far more orphaned neonates in ways we could not achieve previously.”

Reinert say she got the RV thanks to Stewart, of Optimum RV in Pottstown, whom she thanked for offering a “purr-fect option.”

“When she came in and she told me she was doing and what the cause was, I just talked to my boss and worked extremely hard to get the best deal possible,” Stewart said.

“I'm going to help them when they're going to renovate it. They're going to do the renovations, and we're here to guide them and help out as much as we can.”

Stewart described the RV as a “smaller travel trailer” that can be easily renovated, which is “perfect for what they’re looking for.”

Reinert has picked up the RV, and her family already is working on the renovations, said Stewart, a self-proclaimed animal lover.

To help facilitate the renovations, the rescue now is seeking more donations via a Facebook drive.

It also is taking contributions via mail at 5260 Overlook Road, Coplay 18037, and through its website. As of Tuesday afternoon, Foxy’s had raised about $1,770 in contributions from the Facebook post alone.

'Just became so much stronger'

Other fundraising drives, including a “Fight for Foxy’s: Never Lose Your Voice Self Defense Class” in Palmerton, also are under way.

In addition, the rescue is looking out for more foster volunteers throughout the Lehigh Valley; the Poconos; Phillipsburg, New Jersey; Philadelphia; and central Pennsylvania.

At the moment, the plan is to unveil the revamped ride at Foxy’s Cradle’s Kitten Showers and Spring Flowers event in March.

Foxy’s Cradle's saga started when North Whitehall’s Zoning Hearing Board last summer it was found to be in violation.

Despite a massive show in support during a hearing in November 2023, the board upheld its view that the neonatal rescue operation violated a zoning ordinance by failing to apply for permits for a new use of property, and that such operations are not permitted within an agricultural/rural zoning district during a December meeting.

Reinert credited her deep Pennsylvania Dutch roots and her grandmother, who the rescue takes its name from, for her tenacity in the fight to keep the operation alive.

“The township officials can try to stop my rescue efforts, but when you combine family and community support, love of rescue, compassion for the little ones too often overlooked, and the sheer grit of a born and raised PA Dutch girl," wrote Reinert in a Facebook post.

"Nobody will ever succeed in holding my 'little' NICU back. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and with all of our communities’ help, the voices of the otherwise voiceless just became so much stronger!”

Reinert did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the matter.